Iraqi Prime Minister Adil Abdul-Mahdi on Tuesday announced plans to visit both Iran and the U.S. in hopes of defusing steadily mounting tension between Tehran and Washington.
Speaking to reporters in Baghdad, Abdul-Mahdi said he plans to make the twin visits “within days”.
The prime minister reportedly hopes to meet the leaders of both countries to discuss recent regional developments and “try to defuse the crisis” between them.
On Saturday, Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif visited Iraq -- which enjoys close ties with both Iran and the U.S. -- to discuss possible mediation by Baghdad.
Tensions between Iran and the U.S. have mounted steadily since 2017, when U.S. President Donald Trump withdrew his country from a landmark nuclear agreement between Tehran and the P5+1 group of nations (the five permanent UN Security Council members plus Germany).
Since then, the Trump administration has also re-imposed sanctions on Iran’s banking and energy sectors, while Iran has threatened to close the strategic Strait of Hormuz to U.S. oil shipments.
Earlier this month, the U.S. sent a carrier strike group to the Middle East, citing a "credible threat" from Tehran.
On May 24, CNN reported that Trump had approved the deployment of 1,500 U.S. troops to the Middle East in a “mostly protective” effort aimed at deterring what he described as “Iranian threats”.
By Ibrahim Saleh in Baghdad